CAC Hosts Assembly on Online Dangers
On Sept. 26, Chief Jim Holler educated Tyler Consolidated students on the dangers of social networking through a special assembly titled Social Networking:”The Good, the Bad, the Ugly!”
The event was funded through a grant awarded to The Lighthouse Child Advocacy Center by the Community Foundation for the Ohio Valley.
The Community Impact grant is designed to support a particular area of need as identified by the donor.
CAC Executive Director Susan Scharf explained that the grant application was written to increase youth education and awareness about cyberbullying, sexting and online predators as well as strategies for prevention and intervention.
“We saw a huge need for students to be educated regarding the multitude of consequences that can arise from inappropriate social networking. This includes the legal, social, emotional and future educational and career ramifications of engaging in this type of behavior,” said Scharf.
Additionally, the grant funded the leasing of two billboards to raise community awareness. The CAC said that funding for this project was received in January and this particular project ends in November.
Holler’s presentation warned students of adult predators using social media to groom victims. Grooming is establishing an emotional connection with a child in order to lower their inhibitions and lure them in for sexual abuse. According to Chief Holler, predators use various techniques to groom their victims. Some of these techniques include flattery, sending gifts, discussing adult subjects, asking to keep secrets, turning them against family and friends and sharing/asking for revealing photos. Holler warns that every photograph that is posted online can be stolen.
Holler also warned that teenagers who engage in sexting are prone to becoming targets of sexual predators and cyberbullying.
To further prove online dangers, Chief Holler shared real life examples as well as some of his own investigations throughout the presentation.
Chief Holler has years of special training with this particular subject material. He has 35 years of public service and law enforcement experience particularly with online predators. In 2005, he became an Internet Crimes Against Children Investigator where he arrested several online sexual predators for possession of child pornography and soliciting sex from minors. In addition, he served as board president for two child advocacy centers which included the Lighthouse Child Advocacy Center in Paden City.
CAC Executive Director Scharf believes that is important for students to understand the ‘bad’ and ‘ugly’ of social networking. The popularity of instant messaging, email, web pages, text messages and blogging means that children are potential victims.
Teenagers often do not understand the dangers of social networking on their reputations, athletic participation, college admissions, work opportunities or social relationships, Scharf explained.
Magnolia High School held the same assembly on Sept. 25 with Paden City High School students in attendance. In the course of two days, Chief Holler along with the CAC was able to reach over 1,200 students.
The Lighthouse Child Advocacy Center’s mission is to meet the needs of children and families in our community by providing a community-based, child-focused center that facilitates a compassionate, multidisciplinary approach to the prevention, identification, investigation, prosecution and treatment of child abuse.